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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 615:133-142 (2019)  -  DOI:

Low genetic connectivity in a fouling amphipod among man-made structures in the southern North Sea

Pieternella C. Luttikhuizen1,*, Jan Beermann2,3, Richard P. M. A. Crooijmans4, Robbert G. Jak5, Joop W. P. Coolen5,6

1NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Department of Coastal Systems, and Utrecht University, PO Box 59, 1790 AB Den Burg, The Netherlands
2Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Department of Functional Ecology, Am Handelshafen 12, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
3Helmholtz Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity, Ammerländer Heerstraße 231, 26129 Oldenburg, Germany
4Wageningen University & Research, Animal Breeding and Genomics, Droevendaalsesteeg 1, 6708 PB Wageningen, The Netherlands
5Wageningen Marine Research, PO Box 57, 1780 AB Den Helder, The Netherlands
6Wageningen University, Chair group Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management, Droevendaalsesteeg 3a, 6708 PD Wageningen, The Netherlands
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Offshore environments are increasingly invaded by man-made structures that form hard-substrate habitats for many marine species. Examples include oil and gas platforms, wind turbines and shipwrecks. One of the hypothesised effects is an increased genetic connectivity among natural populations due to new populations growing on man-made structures that may act as stepping stones. However, few data are available on genetic connectivity among organisms inhabiting artificial offshore structures. Here, we present a study on the common fouling amphipod Jassa herdmani from offshore structures in the southern North Sea. Partial mitochondrial DNA sequences (cytochrome-c-oxidase 1, N = 514) were obtained from artificial structures at 17 locations in the southern North Sea, including 13 shipwrecks, 2 wind turbines and 2 platforms. Samples from these locations were significantly differentiated, meaning that strong population structure exists for this species in the area. Levels of intraspecific variation were consistent with stable population sizes. No evidence was found for isolation by distance. Using coalescent simulations, the oldest population subdivision events were estimated to date back to the time the study area was flooded following the Last Glacial Maximum. We therefore tentatively conclude that J. herdmani may have colonised man-made structures from previously existing populations on the sea floor, and that the increase in offshore installations has not led to an overall increase in genetic connectivity for this species.

KEY WORDS: Genetic structure · Connectivity · Offshore oil platform · Offshore wind farm · Amphipod · Biofouling · Gene flow

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Cite this article as: Luttikhuizen PC, Beermann J, Crooijmans RPMA, Jak RG, Coolen JWP (2019) Low genetic connectivity in a fouling amphipod among man-made structures in the southern North Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 615:133-142.

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